Black Mambazo (The black axe from the town Ladysmith) was founded in
1964 by Joseph Shabala. He is founder, writer, composer and the genius
of the group. Joseph recruited family and friends from Ladysmith to
create the music of his dreams. Paul Simon's album Graceland
("Homeless" and "Diamonds On The Soles Of Her
Shoes") was LBM's tremendous breakthrough. From this time they
performed on hundreds of concerts worldwide, released several albums
and gained International success Grammies included. Their newest album
"No Boundaries" is in the spirit of integration, the mixture
of African culture with International elements. The hybrid of
Zulu harmonies and unconventional Western influences, including
gospel, is a tradition since the beginning of so many International
But this album is special because
Ladysmith Black Mambazo performs together with a classical orchestra
for the very first time. The English
Chamber Orchestra is one of the world's leading chamber
orchestras, having performed in more countries than any other
orchestra, recorded over 1,200 works and played with the world's
greatest soloists in its 44 years of history, including Daniel
Barenboim, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Isaac Stern, Luciano Pavarotti, Placido
Domingo and Mstislav Rostropovich. The album was recorded semi-live.
Some single takes are remixed.
is a Mambazo song from the album "Thandani" (1990). Jabulani
means "be happy" in the African language of Ndebele. The
classic melody originally performed accapella is now accompanied by
is certainly Mambazo's most-played piece. Composed by Joseph
Shabala and Peter Simon I count more than 14 album versions. The new
one is orchestral structured with strings, horns and other
was released on the album Spirit of South Africa (1998). It's a
classical song presenting the hunt as allegory.
Grace is one of the most well-known Protestant hymns. The
words were written by John Newton; they form a part of the Olney Hymns
that he worked on, with William Cowper and other hymnodists. The Paul
Simon/Joseph Shabala arrangement is a real incorporation of joy.
Pacem is taken from the Missa Brevis for Youth Choir by Isak
Roux. Roux was asked in 2003 by the ICMF
(International Classical Music Festival) in South Africa to assemble a
program for a collaboration between the ECO and Mambazo. In Pretoria
the opening gala took place in November 2003.
Emoyeni (Wind of the Spirit of God) was first released on the
album "Thandani". Joseph Shabala and Isak Roux present a new
orchestral arrangement of this church hymn.
Ujesu, an old congregational song, originally from the album
"Thandani" is new arranged by Isak Roux to a township kwela.
Franz Schubert had written Sanctus
for his "German Mass". The tenor Robert Brooks performs the
lead melody while Mambazo adds the Zulu touch to this interpretation.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's has
composed Ave Verum Corpus, a motet for
chorus, strings, and organ in 1791. Now Mambazo presents this classic
tune as a gospel.
Ivangeli originally to find on some of Mambazo's albums like
Favourites (2001), The Ultimative Collection (2001) or Best of
Ladysmith Black Mambazo - Vol. 1 (1992) as a harmonical gospel is
interpreted now as a medieval Christmas song in Renaissance style.
Umtwana (The Child Is Crying) is an old Zulu lullaby, a
pentatonic melody in an orchestral environment.
Mambazo's newest album offers
classic Mambazo pieces and classical masterpieces. It's a new facet in
their traditional gospel music. It would be interesting to know if the
groupís upcoming three month tour of the United States will
integrate this new album with an orchestral performance.